Among the early representatives of this county in the upper Canada legislature were the Fairfield brothers William and Benjamin. The Fairfields were a prominent family among the united empire loyalists pioneers of Lennox, and the family name has been well represented ever since. The farm on which the original William Fairfield settled on the Bay of Quinte shore on the front of Ernesttown, lot 37, has always been retained and occupied by the family. Both these brothers were members of the upper Canada legislature, William being elected in 1799 and Benjamin in 1816. The sessional indemnity then was very small, amounting from $40 to $75. The death of William at the age of forty-seven years, is noted in the Kingston Gazette on February 7th, 1816.
There yet stands on the old Fairfield homestead a commodious dwelling house, yet very comfortable, and in an excellent state of preservation, a capital type of the best homes erected by the most well to do of the first united empire loyalist pioneers of this province. It is now seeing the third century of its existence, and bids fair for another century of usefulness. It was built by the original William Fairfield and completed in 1796.
That was in the days when every important house was regularly "warmed"; when first opened the friends from far and near coming together to enjoy the owner's generous hospitality, and for a time of rejoicing and merry making. It is said that the "warming" festivities on that occasion lasted three days, friends from Kingston and other quite distant points were "there to see." Kingston was much further away than it is now, if the condition of the roads was taken into consideration. It is said that those who came from Kingston were in heavy lumber waggons, the only vehicles that could be safely used. As a necessary precaution, each waggon had its supply of rope and axes to be available for getting out of swamp holes and quagmires, which were every where to be found, and for removing fallen trees, or logs that were not unfrequently found along the leading highways of the country. The house was long well-known as one of the most commodious and complete hostelries of the country, where many a weary and many an aristocratic traveller was glad to find ample accommodation. It is beautifully situated, just where it commands a splendid view of the Lower Gap, and of Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario.
In a letter dated April 16th, 1816, the following mention about freight rates between Montreal and Kingston at that time will go to show that it often costs more for freight that distance than the original price of the goods. William Fairfield writes:
"Cyrus Smith has Mr. Jones' receipt for the two chests of tea, two hogsheads of crockery, and a bale of cottons and other articles, which I purchased in Montreal, and engaged them to be brought to Kingston for seventy dollars. Thirty dollars was the price of a common load of nine or ten hundred to Kingston, and mine weighted over seven hundred and fifty. I expected they would have bad roads but at the same time expected the goods brought on. They have been left on the way, though many others arrived five or six days after myself. Smith claims £10 ($40) which is more than equal according to the distance and badness of roads. At any rate I wish the things brought up."